Eight. Two eight year-old girls stand beside men who appear to be their fathers. In reality, the two "fathers" are the husbands to the two eight-year old girls. Shocking photograph. Shocked that it happened twice. Shocked that it exists as a continuing practice around the world. Eight is the age of learning to read, learning to calculate, and playing outside. It is not the age of a wife with wifely responsibilities. The number of child brides is staggering. This is a massive crime perpetrated against these children. It is a crime that is often unreported and openly celebrated, often to the horror of the child bride. Although this crime is prevalent among poverty-stricken, rural communities in the developing world, it is not relegated to that world alone. Even in the United States, each state provides laws to permit children under the age of consent to marry. They may not be as young as eight, but they are no doubt too young to be marry. Many of these girls are mothers before they are fully developed. Pregnancy and complications during childbirth are the leading causes of death for girls between 15-19. These girls should not be dying at this age. They should be studying for their next test and thinking about what they want to do when they graduate from school.
I was so overwhelmed with heartbreak, the only question that my mind could create is "what can I do?" It is such a horrific number in a huge world. Thankfully, I was informed to contact my senators and representative to request that they support the immediate reintroduction and passage of the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. This by no means will end childhood marriage, but it is a step toward ending it. Attention to the plight, education about how to prevent it, law enforcement, and prayer will eradicate this colossal disgrace.
For more info and resources about this event: http://nycwov.blogspot.com/2012/12/too-young-to-wed-promoting-girls-rights.html